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Amazon documents reveal copied products and rigged search results to boost their own brand in India: report

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Amazon has copied products from competing manufacturers and used its internal data to expand its product lines and gain an edge over other sellers in India, new documents seen by Reuters have revealed.

The report that looked at emails, strategy papers and business plans shows Amazon tried to dominate the platform by creating fakes and rigging search results to boost sales of its own. brand, Solimo, in India, one of the company’s most promising markets.

What did the documents reveal?

The documents show that Amazon employees studied detailed information from other brands on their platform in order to identify and target products and copy them. Amazon brand Solimo, created for the Indian market, defined a strategy in 2016 to “use information from Amazon.in to develop products, then leverage the Amazon.in platform to market those products to of our customers ”.

Amazon employees also planned to partner with other manufacturers they were targeting to learn about “the unique processes that impact the final quality of the product,” the 2016 document, titled “India Private Brands,” revealed. Program ”.

“It is difficult to develop this expertise across the products and therefore, to ensure that we are able to fully match the quality with our benchmark product, we have decided to partner only with the manufacturers of our benchmark product.” , indicates the document.

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Previously, it had been reported that Amazon was mining confidential data to launch its own competing products and manipulating search results to increase sales. However, that this was a clandestine strategy, especially for one of its largest markets, India, has so far been revealed through documents viewed by Reuters.

The documents also reveal that Senior Vice Presidents Diego Piacentini and Russell Grandinetti were aware of the strategy. While Piacentini has left the company, Grandinetti runs Amazon’s international consumer activities.

Impact Solimo

The Solimo project in India has had an international impact. Its health and household products are offered for sale on the American site Amazon.com.

Amazon created the Solimo brand using the Indian website to gain a clear advantage over other products. The word Solimo is taken from Solimões, which is a name for the upper reaches of the Amazon River in Brazil.

With the Solimo brand, Amazon planned to offer items similar to competing brands but at 10-15% cheaper, according to the 2016 Private Brands document.

Amazon employees targeted Home Furnishings which had a $ 2 billion business in India, whose own website sold around $ 1 million in three months in mid-2014.

Amazon used a strategy called “glance views” to quantify the products customers viewed on its website.

Once the brands were identified, they were replicated to meet customer performance requirements.

Amazon has asked its employees to model other companies’ products for their own samples.

Among the brands reviewed by Amazon employees were Old Navy / GAP men’s shirts, Prestige for pots and pans, Peter England and Louis Philippe for men’s shirts, and John Players for men’s clothing.

Amazon’s response

In a written response, Amazon said it found the allegations in the Reuters report to be incorrect and unfounded. “As Reuters has not shared the documents or their provenance with us, we are unable to confirm the veracity or not of the information and allegations as reported,” Amazon said.

The retail giant also said it displayed search results based on relevance to the customer’s query and not promoting any private labels.

Piacentini and Grandinetti were unavailable for comment.

Amazon under surveillance in India

Amazon and Flipkart have been under the radar of the Indian Competition Commission (ICC) for granting preferential treatment to certain sellers on their e-commerce platforms. The unfair practices watchdog has polled the two retail giants Amazon and Flipkart for favoring some sellers over others. Allegations made by an organization of merchants also claimed that some of these preferred sellers were entities with direct or indirect ties to Amazon and Flipkart.

Amazon has also been investigated in the United States and Europe for its alleged anti-competitive practices. New Reuters revelations on Amazon’s practices in India could have an impact on the European Commission’s investigation.

“When a competition authority examines some aspect of the behavior of one of these globally active organizations, it will certainly be interested in understanding what evidence exists in other parts of the world and to what extent that evidence is. related to the practices they themselves investigate, ”Jonas Koponen, antitrust lawyer at Linklaters LLP in Brussels, told Reuters.

(Edited by : Shoma bhattacharjee)

First publication: STI

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